Higher education structures are a difficult space to navigate as an Indigenous Female. I continuously have so many thoughts and feelings, but I often have felt afraid and uncomfortable to speak within the academic space. I often feared that my way of speaking was not quite eloquent enough to voice my opinions within this space. I often wonder to myself, why speak up if no one listens or understands? What makes my words important? How do I find agency in a place/system that does not empower Indigenous people? A place/system that historically wanted to “kill the Indian and save the man.”+
The artwork and the poetic narrative (thesis writing) I have created are the result of the constant feelings of discomfort, containment and displacement within the academic atmosphere. It was a struggle to find the strength to speak up about these emotions without a Tribal support system to lean on. I often felt alone and battled self-doubt. The notion of quitting has crossed my mind several times within this space and I have broken
down in tears during these moments. I conquered these moments through talking with other Indigenous students in other academic spaces, through reading, and through prayer. The work I have created are expressive renderings of my body and mind in a book form that has been inspired by the basketry of my paternal and maternal lineages. I created this artwork to show that self-doubt does not belong within my identity, but I also created it to
voice my story about being an Indigenous Woman in a colonized academic space. I come from People who have thrived in and out of colonized spaces, they have shown me that my identity is made of strength and resiliency. This is as much for them as it is for me.